Ryder Cup all but locked up for U.S.
Gene Wojciechowski [ARCHIVE]
ESPN.com
September 30, 2012
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MEDINAH, Ill. -- For those who think this Ryder Cup is finished, think again. Team Europe can still win if the following five things happen Sunday:

-- Keegan Bradley is abducted.

-- Team USA captain Davis Love III inserts Cup spectators Michael Jordan, President George W. Bush, Amy Mickelson and the Rev. Jesse Jackson into the singles lineup.

-- Lee Westwood: U.S. citizen.

-- Marty McFly shows Team Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal how to go back in time. Last Friday morning will do.

-- Team Europe wins eight of the remaining 12 matches to retain the cup.

Never mind. It's over. Olazabal can click off the walkie-talkie and take the IFB out of his ear. Time for the Europeans to fire up the private jets and head back home to Florida.

I wish it were different -- I really do. But overcome a 10-6 deficit? Win eight of 12 singles matches?

"It's been done in the past," said Ian Poulter, the only European with a winning record (3-0) this week. "It's going to be done again. That's all we can ask."

It has been done in the past. Once.

It happened in 1999, when American captain Ben Crenshaw wagged his finger at the media and said, "I've got a good feeling about tomorrow. That's all I'm gonna say."

That Sunday, the USA scored 8 points and won 14-13.

"You know," said Sergio Garcia, who was playing in his first Ryder Cup that year, "it would be nice to kind of give it back the way they did it to us in '99."

If you're Garcia, it would be nice. But like Crenshaw, I've got a feeling too.

I've got a feeling Team Europe is doomed. I've got a feeling that Tiger Woods isn't going to go 0-for-Medinah. I've got a feeling that the eight veterans in that USA team room are reminding the four rookies it's time to step on a few throats.

"It puts us in a nice spot," said Steve Stricker, who is 0-3 with Woods this week.

Stricker was being polite. Team USA has the kind of two-day lead that Cup captains pray for. It is as close to insurmountable as trying to climb Mt. Everest wearing a T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops.

"If you would have told me we'd have a 4-point lead going into Sunday, I'd take it," said Stricker.

You think?

Team USA needs to win 4 points. That's not a gimme putt, but it's almost within the circle of friendship.

Meanwhile, Team Europe has to play near flawless golf. And it has to do it with four guys who haven't won a match (Martin Kaymer, Peter Hanson, Francesco Molinari, Paul Lawrie), two of whom didn't play at all on Saturday (Hanson and Kaymer).

Yes, I picked the Europeans to win. I'm also the guy who picked Samsung over Apple, the Wicked Witch of the West over Dorothy and Savannah State over Florida State. I miscalculated.

For instance, I thought Westwood was the No. 4-ranked player in the world. Silly me. Here at Medinah Country Club, Westwood, one of my faves, has played like he was issued plastic clubs.

He lost one match Friday, another one Saturday morning and then was asked by Olazabal to go to the mall and not come back until he found a left-handed ax. Meanwhile, Team Europe played the afternoon four-ball matches.

Team Europe didn't give up. Those guys never give up, especially Poulter.

He won his morning foursomes match with Justin Rose and then teamed with Rory McIlroy to win the afternoon four-ball match. Each time Saturday, Poulter's pairing overcame a USA lead.

"Match play, I love the fight of it," said Poulter. "You get to stare your opponent straight in the face and sometimes that's what you need to do."

If Mrs. Poulter had had quintuplets and they all played golf, then Team Europe might have won this thing. But there's only one Poulter and he can win only once on Sunday -- that is, if he beats Webb Simpson in the second match.

The Europeans have to do too much with too little. They won't phone it in. That's why Olazabal front-loaded his Sunday lineup with Team Europe's heavy hitters (Luke Donald, Poulter, McIlroy, Justin Rose).

But eventually you get to Lawrie (0-2) and, in something of a surprise, Graeme McDowell (1-2) and later, Hanson, Westwood, Kaymer and Molinari.

"Individually, I wouldn't want to play anybody on our side," said a confident Love.

"Massive task, but there's a chance," said a hopeful Rose.

"Yeah, of course, there's a chance," said McIlroy.

A chance, nothing more. A minuscule, "Do-you-believe-in-miracles?" chance.

If it happens -- if Team Europe leaves with the cup for the seventh time in the past nine competitions -- then you'll hear a roar all the way from Spain, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Belgium. Fathers will name their newborns Ian. Olazabal won't have to take a flight back; he can float there.

Love and Team USA would like a rout. Olazabal and Team Europe would like drama. They'd like to see sweat stains on the Americans' golf shirts.

"This has given us a heartbeat," said Poulter of a tiny European surge in the Saturday dusk that cut the USA lead to those 4 points.

Heartbeats count for something. But a 10-6 advantage for Team USA counts for more. More than the Europeans can make up.

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